FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A California teenager accused of molesting and drowning a 4-year-old neighbor boy and hiding his body in a clothes dryer was convicted of first-degree murder Friday.
A judge also found 15-year-old Raul Castro guilty of lewd and lascivious conduct and sodomy. The judge found Castro not guilty of kidnapping.
Castro was tried as an adult in the October 2009 killing of Alex Mercado. Castro was 14 when he drowned the preschooler in a bathtub after the child said he would tell his mother about the sexual assault.
The Mendota teen confessed in taped interviews with detectives to sexually assaulting and killing the boy.
Castro's defense attorney, Barbara Hope O'Neill, argued the teen was mentally ill and did not intend to kill Alex. O'Neill based her argument on the testimony of a psychiatrist who said Castro's mental illness led him to disassociate with reality.
The doctor testified that Castro has a history of depression, suicidal behavior, hallucinations, bipolar disorder and anxiety. He also said the teen had suffered physical abuse as a toddler by his mother's boyfriend. Castro had an out-of-body experience as he killed and sexually assaulted Alex, psychiatrist Avak Albert Howsepian said.
But prosecutor Robert Romanacce challenged the doctor's credibility. The murder was premeditated, the prosecutor said, and Castro was in a clear state of mind at the time.
A judge decided the case after Castro waived his right to a jury trial.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 24.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest combat ship on Saturday, the USS Tulsa, which eventually will be docked in San Diego.
More than 150 current and former service members and their families gathered on the USS Midway on Saturday morning.
Dozens of people on Saturday fell victim to a brunch scam that was supposed to take place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
One person was shot and seriously injured outside a Kearny Mesa restaurant Friday night - sending diners running for cover.
A man who might have died trying to surf in a rain- swollen Escondido runoff channel on Valentine's Day has been identified.
A small private jet inbound to San Diego International Airport suffered primary brake failure but was still able to land safely on Saturday, officials said.
Weekend conditions are looking cool and wet. Stronger, colder system on Sunday will bring a chance of snow to San Diego mountains.
Six hundred active duty military and veterans will get a unique and intimate concert at the Belly Up on Monday February 18th.
On February 14, 2018, Aalayah Eastmond was in class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when a gunman opened fire.
A San Diego family received a sweet surprise on Valentine’s Day after a fellow diner unexpectedly paid their $52.75 Red Lobster tab and left a sweet note for the mother.